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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ PhoenixView Options:  |  |  | 

Phoenix on Ancient Coins

The Roman poet Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'


Faustina Sr., Augusta 25 February 138 - Early 141, Wife of Antoninus Pius

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Antoninus Pius wrote of his wife Faustina, "I would rather live with her on Gyara [an island of exile] than without her in the palace." Sadly, Faustina died just two years into his 23 year reign. At his request, the Senate deified her, and he minted a massive series of commemorative coins in her honor.
RB79861. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE IV AP1482 (same legend breaks), RIC III AP1103A, Hunter II 89, Cohen II 15, SRCV II 4606, F, nice portrait, near black patina, light corrosion, weight 24.141 g, maximum diameter 32.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, c. 147 A.D.; obverse DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right, strings of pearls in hair, hair drawn up into an elaborate bun on top; reverse AETERNITAS, Aeternitas seated left, feet on footstool, nimbate Phoenix on globe in right hand, transverse scepter in left hand, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $140.00 (Ä124.60)


Constans, 9 September 337 - 19 January 350 A.D.

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The reverse legend translates, "Happy Times Restored." Happy times would not last for Constans. This coinage was among his last issues before his general Magnentius rebelled and had him killed.
RL71445. Billon quarter maiorina, RIC VIII Siscia 244, LRBC II 1136, Voetter 31, SRCV V 18730, Cohen VII 10, Choice EF, weight 1.982 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 348 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTANS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), Constans standing left in galley left, Phoenix on globe in right hand, labarum in left hand, Victory seated in stern steering, BSIS followed by control-mark in exergue; $80.00 (Ä71.20)


Carinus, First Half 283 - Spring 285 A.D.

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The Roman poet Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'
RB50696. Billon antoninianus, RIC V, part 2, 244; Cohen VI 10; Pink VI-2, pp. 38 - 39; SRCV III 12340; Hunter IV -, aVF, weight 3.089 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Rome mint, 5th emission, 284 - 285 A.D.; obverse IMP CARINVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse AETERNIT AVG, Aeternitas standing left, Phoenix on globe in right hand, raising robe with left, KAΓ in exergue; $36.00 (Ä32.04)


Constantius II, 22 May 337 - 3 November 361 A.D.

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The Roman poet Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'
BB83784. Bronze quarter maiorina, RIC VIII Constantinople 93 (S), LRBC II 2019, Voetter 36, SRCV V 18253, Cohen VII 57, Hunter V -, aVF, ragged flan, weight 2.767 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, 6th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, c. 348 - 15 Mar 351 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), radiate Phoenix standing right on globe, CONSS* in exergue; scarce; $22.00 (Ä19.58)







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Catalog current as of Sunday, September 24, 2017.
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Phoenix